It’s no secret that Dalston in East London has gone a little bit posh. But it was not always thus. When I temped at a charity there years ago, it was pretty grungy. Every day I’d pick my way down Kingsland High Street, edging over discarded takeaway chicken bones and broken glass, avoiding rough looking geezers to get to my office on Ashwin Street. One morning I arrived to find police had cordoned it off, and just to the left of my work entrance were two trainer-clad feet sticking out of a white plastic tent – a man had been stabbed to death at 8:55 in the morning and his body was still warm on the tarmac.
But now – LORDY. Ashwin Street is unrecognisable. The buildings have been poshed up, and in a bar next to my old office, trendy people knock back Aperol Spritzers and hang out on the pavement. There is money sloshing about; you can hear tenners rustling on the breeze. Malnourished hipsters dressed as Victorian clock menders rub shoulders with girls wearing snow-washed high waisted denim jeans or neon leggings.
And now there is Street Feast in Dalston Yard, which is essentially a night market where you can eat from loads of different stalls. It’s run by Tweat Up (the folk behind Truckstop and Ginstock) who have corralled together the best of London’s street food slingers to serve up global dishes. You can graze your way around and get a few drinks in, sitting at wooden trestle tables in the corners of what looks like an old warehouse complex with open courtyards. It’s a really energising way to spend time out on a hot summer’s night – despite the queues – and the atmosphere is fantastic. The stall offerings on the night we visited were heavy on the ‘dude food’ – posh burgers, tacos, barbecued and jerked meats etc – and the cocktails were lethal. We drifted around in a cloud of gin, shoving delicious snacks down our throats, and I had intermittent flashbacks of having attended early 90’s psychedelic trance all-nighters (wearing questionable Cyberdog outfits) at Tyssen Street Studios, very close to where we were now enjoying popcorn chicken and Floradora cocktails…
Excuse some of the photos – we were rather trousered on gin and my hands were shaking:
One of the many bars in the yard:
Lovely enormous dangerous drinks – grapefruit Floradora and a Negroni:
Delicious tacos from Breddo’s – I could have happily just eaten these all night long:
Super-delicious barbecued pulled pork in a bun from The Rib Man. Note the ‘Holy Fuck’ and ‘Christ on a Bike’ hot sauces. A bottle of ‘Holy Fuck’ now lives in my kitchen cupboard:
Much more delicious than it looks here: Rotary’s popcorn chicken with Mexican hot sauce:
Bleecker Street Burgers serve up cheeseburgers with the most addictive ‘McDonalds-style’ sauce:
Potato and sweet potato fries: FILTH
British-style pizzas from Born & Raised:
Jamaican jerk chicken and all things Caribbean:
There was so much else I wanted to try, but didn’t have the space. Cakes, Asian pancakes, a sorbet stall, Indian curries, British pizzas. At the end of the night, we could have done with a team of flunkies to lift us out of there in Sedan chairs, as it was hard to move. A blow out, once in a while, is so good for the soul!
Street Feast is at Dalston Yard for a few more weeks on Fridays and Saturdays, so get your greedy selves down there. Wear elasticated trouserings.